An important thing that companies and PR professionals need to know when it comes to trying to get media coverage is that they cannot do their jobs without media contacts. A company’s relationship with journalists, reporters, and influencers can make the difference between earning media coverage and being completely ignored.
Journalists usually receive hundreds of emails daily. However, while a journalist’s job is to be open to unsolicited email pitches, there are certain things that companies do to get their attention that they will not tolerate. When companies use tactics that they do not appreciate, there is a very high chance that the company will be ignored and even blacklisted forever.
In this article, we will look at
- Tactics to avoid when doing PR
- How to build better relationships with journalists
Tactics to avoid when doing PR
1) Targeting every journalist from every industry
While it may seem like an effective tactic to send a pitch and press release out to any and every journalist and media outlet, that will be the company’s downfall. Using the scattergun approach and sending out an email pitch and press release to every journalist and media outlet in the hopes of getting their attention will do severe damage. This is because the pitches you send are not tailored to specific journalists who write about a company’s subject matter, therefore it is not personalized to the target audience. Customizing each email pitch boosts a company’s chances of media success and forges relevant relationships with influential journalists.
Journalists, reporters, and media outlets are smart, trained professionals who know how to do their job very well. They do not appreciate being blindsided or getting potentially embarrassed when the information they should know about a company emerges from a third party. Not only will they look bad among their editors and possible employer, but also their audiences. Presenting outright lies, omitting critical details about a company, withholding information, and submitting a potential downside of the product/service or the main subject causes journalists to get very annoyed and upset. Once they realize what you’ve done, they will most likely withdraw their initial interest in the story.
3) Making demands
Whether or not a journalist or media outlet decides to write a story about a company is entirely up to them. They are usually not waiting for a company to send them an email to write a story; they do not work for them. There is no situation where it is effective to make demands or requests of journalists. What they choose to include in the actual story is totally up to them. While it is ok to follow up once the initial pitch has been sent, it is not ok to constantly hound or plead with them because they will get irritated, and it will also make the company look bad.
4) Late or missed deadlines
Journalists generally have a set deadlines for the stories that need to be created and published. For a company to be a reliable source of journalists and media outlets, they should meet the requested delivery dates for previously promised information. By not returning emails or calls, a company can cause a journalist to miss a deadline, which can be very bad on their end. This will give them a viable reason to sever their relationship with the company. However, there may be unforeseen circumstances that cause a company not to provide the information needed by the journalist. In that case, the company should let the journalist know as soon as possible to possibly find another source or wait for a better time to publish the story. The whole point is to make a journalist’s life easier.
5) Thinking they are the best
As much as a company may think that their brand and the information they are trying to get across is new, innovative, and stands out from the crowd, a journalist may have heard it all before. When a company goes into starting a relationship with a journalist thinking they are the best in the business, the journalist will be turned off immediately. It makes no difference to them who the company is if they have a pompous attitude. As mentioned before, a common misconception about journalists is that they are sitting around anxiously waiting for a story to come their way. That is very far from factual; yes, they are always looking for the next new story, but they aren’t just twiddling their thumbs and waiting. Let’s suppose a company goes into a conversation thinking that they are the only ones in the industry with common knowledge that is not unique to them and have a terrible attitude. In that case, a journalist is more likely to skip past them and move on to a similar company with a better perspective.
How to build better relationships with journalists
The whole point of public relations is to build relationships with journalists and media outlets so that a company can reach its target audience. The previous section of this article discusses the tactics to avoid when trying to do PR. Let us now look at ways that companies can build better relationships with journalists to reach their target audience and have someone on their team for future media outreach.
1) Become a reader/distributor of their work
Before a company even begins to send out pitches to their target journalists, they should know everything about them. It’s important to promote a journalist’s content by sharing it through social distribution channels, social networks, and elsewhere. It shows the journalist that a company has put in the effort to get to know their content, writing style and taken the time to understand them.
2) Interact on social media
This ties in with the previous way to build a better relationship with journalists. Social media platforms are so widely used by journalists. While they prefer beginning a working relationship with companies by email, social media offers companies a way to stay up-to-date on journalists’ interests and share social interactions. Bloggers especially are often quite responsive to comments that they receive on their blogs, which is a way for companies to interact with them while also being respectful of their time and context.
3) Hire PR professionals
While companies may be able to allocate their time and efforts to creating content for their PR campaign, another option that can be beneficial is hiring PR professionals like Pressfarm to help with all their PR needs. Pressfarm works with companies to help create their content from email pitches to press releases and press kits to achieve media coverage. Their PR packages provide access to a PR database of over 75,000 journalists from various industries so that companies can filter and find their perfect match and start building relationships with them without having to compile their own media list. Pressfarm also helps with optimizing a company’s content for SEO to achieve adequate online visibility.
4) Make resources known and available
A company wants to build a mutually beneficial relationship with journalists; they also want to help them do their jobs better. Resources can mean various things. It can be a company’s organic content, but it can also be previous relationships and connections that a company has made to help journalists. When building relationships, companies can present themselves and offer their resources and links to journalists so that they are reacting to the needs of a journalist rather than just pitching a story.
5) Stay positive
While it may be disheartening when journalists decide to move past a company’s story, that does not mean that there needs to be a shift to the negative. It just means that you might need to go back to the drawing board and create an even more unique angle than what you originally thought of. A crucial part of building rapport with journalists and increasing the likelihood of a mutually beneficial relationship is continuing to be positive regardless of the outcome.
PR is all about building and developing a relationship between a company and journalists. Done effectively, it can prove to be very beneficial for both parties. This is why understanding journalists is very important before even trying to pitch a story. Companies, especially those that have been successful in the past, can do some media outreach of their own because they have experience. However, for startups and smaller companies, they may be able to compile all the necessary information but fail to create an effective strategy. This is where PR professionals come in. Their expertise will help companies create content, help them find the perfect journalistic match, and build relationships with the right journalists to get the media coverage they deserve.